Warrington Borough Council has submitted an ambitious bid, worth around £500,000, to help create a safer environment for cyclists and pedestrians in the borough.
The ring-fenced funding is being made available through the second tranche of the government’s Emergency Active Travel Fund.
The Department for Transport (DfT) funding – which aims to deliver several ‘shovel ready’ projects – is a direct response to the impact that the coronavirus pandemic has made to the way people travel every day. It also closely follows the government’s publication of its cycling strategy ‘Gear Change’ in which it pledges more support to make cycling safer and more accessible.
Cllr Hans Mundry, cabinet member for highways and transportation, said: “This grant funding from the Department for Transport represents an excellent opportunity to bring forward a wide range of active travel initiatives for our residents.
“Many of the schemes and measures put forward in this bid form part of our existing strategic vision for our town, including the Central 6 Masterplan, consultation from which told us our communities have a strong desire for increased walking and cycling opportunities in a cleaner, greener, safer environment.”
In-line with DfT funding requirements, the council’s bid is centred around creating meaningful, quality improvements to the transport network that are focused on shifting some of the long-held priorities of the network away from vehicles, to cyclists and pedestrians.
This supports the council’s Local Transport Plan (LTP4), which sets out a blueprint for encouraging more sustainable travel, and with the Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP) which focusses on improving the walking and cycling network.
Cllr Mundry added: “Appreciating the shift in transport patterns among our residents due to coronavirus, the government expects us to act swiftly and decisively to ensure our transport network is fit for purpose and encourages residents to make more of their journeys on foot and by bicycle.
“Residents have also told us that they care deeply about seeing improvements to air quality in their areas, and that they want us to reduce carbon emissions from transport. Getting more cars off the road and more people using active travel options is a key way of delivering on this, and this bid will help us to do just that.”
As part of the phase 2 bid, the council will continue to monitor and evaluate a range of the temporary emergency schemes set out earlier in the year, many in the town centre, in order to determine which are having the desired impact and which would be suitable to be made permanent.
The council is expecting to hear the outcome of its bid this month, and if approved, projects under the bid must be completed by Spring 2021.